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Spectacular Wealth

Spectacular Wealth
The Festivals of Colonial South American Mining Towns

Drawing on archival research, this illuminating study shows how residents of all ethnicities in three colonial boomtowns used festivals to redefine wealth and present themselves as more than subjects of European power.

December 2016
Active (available)
237 pages | 6 x 9 | Hardcover has a printed case, no dust jacket | 5 b&w photos |

Bridging print culture and performance, Spectacular Wealth draws on eighteenth-century festival accounts to explore how colonial residents of the silver-mining town of Potosí, in the viceroyalty of Peru, and the gold-mining region of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, created rich festive cultures that refuted European allegations of barbarism and greed. In her examination of the festive participation of the towns’ diverse inhabitants, including those whose forced or slave labor produced the colonies’ mineral wealth, Lisa Voigt shows how Amerindians, Afro-descendants, Europeans, and creoles displayed their social capital and cultural practices in spectacular performances.

Tracing the multiple meanings and messages of civic festivals and religious feast days alike, Spectacular Wealth highlights the conflicting agendas at work in the organization, performance, and publication of festivals. Celebrants and writers in mining boomtowns presented themselves as far more than tributaries yielding mineral wealth to the Spanish and Portuguese empires, using festivals to redefine their reputations and to celebrate their cultural, spiritual, and intellectual wealth.

  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Texts
    • Chapter 1. In Praise of Follies: Creole Patriotism in the Festivals of Arzáns’s Historia de la Villa Imperial de Potosí
    • Chapter 2. Celebrating Minas Gerais in Triunfo Eucharistico and Aureo Throno Episcopal
  • Part 2: Celebrants
    • Chapter 3. Festive Natives in Potosí, from Audience to Performance
    • Chapter 4. “Nos Pretos como no Prelo”: Afro-Brazilians in Festivals, from Performance to Print
  • Conclusion: Spectacular Tributes
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index

Voigt is an associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the Ohio State University in Columbus. She is the author of Writing Captivity in the Early Modern Atlantic: Circulations of Knowledge and Authority in the Iberian and English Imperial Worlds, which received the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize from the Modern Language Association.


“Compelling and provocative. . . . A beautifully elegant study that promises to add to an emerging body of literature on mining, economy, and wealth in Iberian empires. Voigt’s dual consideration of Potosí, in Spanish America, and Ouro Preto, in Brazil, is laudable.”
Anna More, Universidade de Brasília, author of Baroque Sovereignty: Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora and the Creole Archive of Colonial Mexico